Feeling safe at home? According to the intelligence community’s 2022 Annual Threat Assessment, published Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Iran will threaten Americans — both directly and via proxy attacks — and that Tehran remains committed to developing networks inside the U.S. “Now, with the U.S. on the cusp of a diplomatic accord with Iran over its nuclear program, as well as a potential deal regarding the release of four American prisoners, it is not clear whether the Biden administration can extract any further concessions or convince Tehran to cease its other malign activities, including any on U.S. soil.”
CBS News has obtained two persistent threat assessments submitted to Congress by the State Department in January 2022 which cited a “serious and credible threat” on the lives of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook. These non-public assessments show that throughout 2021, and again in 2022, the State Department assessed the need to provide round-the-clock, U.S.-taxpayer-funded diplomatic security details to both men.
The hefty security entourage that continues to travel with Pompeo, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has garnered attention during his public appearances including at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The size of the detail rivals one that is typical for a current cabinet member.
The most recent threat assessment signed by Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon cites a determination made as of July 16, 2021 that Pompeo faced such threats “from a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power.” Former U.S. officials confirmed that Iran is the foreign actor.
The FBI also thwarted an Iranian intelligence network plot to kidnap New York-based journalist Maseh Alinejad, and Tehran is threatening current U.S. officials, which was acknowledged publicly by the intelligence community on Tuesday. The ODNI report said that the threat to current officials was in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military general, Commander Qasem Soleimani, in January 2020, and that Iran “has previously attempted to conduct lethal operations in the United States.”
Somewhat deflating, the article continues: “On Face the Nation this past Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken sidestepped a question about whether a renewed diplomatic agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program would also address threats on U.S. soil, including any targeting his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state when the assassination strike against Soleimani took place. Blinken instead addressed the broad threat posed to U.S. personnel from Iranian malign actors, saying, “We will stand and act against those every single day.”
Secretary Blinken has previously said “that Iran is weeks away from obtaining enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb, hence the U.S. attempts to revive the 2015 international agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which would lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for a temporary cap on its nuclear development.” President Trump exited the JCPOA in 2018 by sanctioning Iran, and in July 2019, Iran began nuclear-related activities that exceeded limits of that agreement. The intelligence community assesses that if Iran does not win sanctions relief, then it will proceed with enriching nuclear fuel to weapons grade material.
“We were very clear when we were in the deal originally that nothing about the deal prevents us from taking action against Iran when it’s engaged in actions that threaten us, threaten our allies and partners. That will very much continue,” Blinken said. Do you feel comforted?